Business

Thumbnail image for Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

Gas Prices Rise in San Diego as Refinery Strike Spreads

by Doug Porter 02.25.2015 Business

By Doug Porter 

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline reached three dollars in San Diego this week, roughly seventy cents more than a month ago. The primary cause of this steep increase is the largest refinery strike in 35 years, a walkout that’s continuing to spread as negotiations have stalled out. 

A total of 6,550 workers represented by the United Steel Workers are on strike at 15 plants, including 12 refineries accounting for one-fifth of U.S. capacity. The central issue in this labor dispute is safe working conditions for the USW members at more than 200 oil terminals, pipelines, refineries and chemical plants in the U.S. 

The American Automobile Association says the steep increase in prices comes on the heels of a record 123 consecutive days of declines. 

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Thumbnail image for Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors

Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors

by Source 02.25.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

GM is worth around $60 billion, and has over 200,000 employees. Its front-line workers earn from $19 to $28.50 an hour, with benefits.

Uber is estimated to be worth some $40 billion, and has 850 employees. Uber also has over 163,000 drivers (as of December – the number is expected to double by June), who average $17 an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and $23 an hour in San Francisco and New York.

But Uber doesn’t count these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent contractors.”

What difference does it make?

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Thumbnail image for A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

A Call to Action on the Labor Crisis in Higher Ed: Colleges Are Running On the Backs of Underpaid Part-Timers

by Jim Miller 02.23.2015 Columns

February 25th is National Adjunct Walkout Day

By Jim Miller

As I have noted here recently, the successful assault on public sector unionism has marched hand in hand with the surge of income inequality and the erosion of the American middle class. Of course, central to this is the ongoing war on teachers’ unions and the nationwide trend toward austerity budgets in state capitols across the country.

In the world of higher education, what this means is that as we have seen taxes go down for the wealthy and corporations over the last thirty years, budgets for education from K-12 to the university have suffered.

And while the growing student debt crisis has received significant attention, far fewer people are probably aware that in addition to gouging students, colleges across the country are increasingly relying on an exploited army of highly educated part-time teachers in the classroom to help keep their budgets in line.

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Thumbnail image for Chargers Hold Up Three Fingers: Read Between the Lines, San Diego

Chargers Hold Up Three Fingers: Read Between the Lines, San Diego

by Doug Porter 02.20.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

The drama surrounding the San Diego Chargers’ pursuit of a stadium–somewhere, anywhere–is turning out to be much more entertaining than much of the action on the field in recent years.  Today I’ll look around at what’s been said and do my best to provide some insight.

Yesterday the team let it slip–as a story in the Los Angeles Times was going to press–that they were working on a joint stadium deal with the Oakland Raiders for a facility in Carson, California, a city of less than 100,000 people with a history of shady dealings.

The coverage at ESPN included a nugget from an unidentified source saying the teams had been working together on this deal for the past nine months. The Chargers, by the way, denied inquiries from the St. Louis media about a deal in LA just a few weeks back.

Nobody was unhappier about the stadium news than Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who’d like the public to believe he’s been making a serious effort towards keeping the team in San Diego. After all, nobody wants to run for reelection with “lost our beloved Chargers” as a signature accomplishment.

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Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 3

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 3

by John Lawrence 02.17.2015 Business

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Renewable Solutions Are Here Now and Technically Feasible Today

It is now clear, at least from a technical perspective, that we could eliminate fossil fuels over a period of 20 to 40 years. That’s if we went full steam ahead without being blocked by fossil fuel corporations, the politicians beholden to them and various other vested interests who stand to profit from the status quo.

In 2009 Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and Mark Delucchi, a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, came up with a detailed, groundbreaking road map for just how this could be accomplished. Their study showed how 100% of the world’s energy could be supplied by wind, water and solar (WWS) resources by as early as 2030. Their paper, which appeared in Scientific American, is called “A Plan for a Sustainable Future by 2030.”

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Racial Unconscious: History is the Narrative that Hurts

San Diego’s Racial Unconscious: History is the Narrative that Hurts

by Jim Miller 02.16.2015 Battle for Barrio Logan

…the insistence on what one might call “San Diego exceptionalism,” the notion that our city is somehow free of the same troubled history as the rest of the country, is at the heart of our city’s failure to truly serve the needs of all San Diegans. 

By Jim Miller

Last week, leading up to this week’s special focus on race and racism, the San Diego Free Press posted a story about a new report released by the Equal Justice Institute (EJI) that notes how, “Capital punishment and ongoing racial injustice in the United States are ‘direct descendants’ of lynching, charges a new study, which found that the pre-World War II practice of ‘racial terrorism’ has had a much more profound impact on race relations in America than previously acknowledged.”

This hidden history of racial terrorism in America is far more influential than many of us would prefer to acknowledge. As EJI Director Bryan Stevenson observes, “I also think that the lynching era created a narrative of racial difference, a presumption of guilt, a presumption of dangerousness that got assigned to African Americans in particular—and that’s the same presumption of guilt that burdens young kids living in urban areas who are sometimes menaced, threatened, or shot and killed by law enforcement officers.”

And if a lack of awareness or outright denial of the significance of our racist past is a problem in the United States at large, San Diego is certainly not immune though our civic religion—banal self-promotion by the tourism industry—would have us think otherwise. But underneath the official ahistorical pastiche of styles and fantasies designed to aid commerce and nature-packaged-as-spectacle there is another story.

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Thumbnail image for Community Planning Boards Have Democratic Elections Because of One Group From Ocean Beach

Community Planning Boards Have Democratic Elections Because of One Group From Ocean Beach

by Frank Gormlie 02.14.2015 Activism

The Ocean Beach Community Planning Group Was the Forerunner to OB’s Planning Board

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

On March 10, the Ocean Beach Planning Board will hold its annual election of Board members. It will take place at the OB Rec Center. Every resident, property owner and business-owner in Ocean Beach is authorized to vote – with ID proving residency.

One of the main reasons that this election is going forward in March – as it has been for the last 39 years – is because of the vision and diligence of a small group that existed back in the 1970s. It was the persistent push over a several-year period during the mid-70s for an election of this nature – a democratic election – to a neighborhood planning committee by an organization called the Ocean Beach Community Planning Group that was ultimately responsible for this democratic gain for communities.

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Thumbnail image for As San Diego Bike Share Rolls Out, State Legislator Touts Helmet Law

As San Diego Bike Share Rolls Out, State Legislator Touts Helmet Law

by Doug Porter 02.12.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s bike share program has finally launched, following multiple delays as private operator DecoBike navigated financial and political challenges along the way towards setting up 180 stations around the city.

This week California State Senator Carol Liu announced a bill (SB 192) expanding mandatory helmet use to include all riders over 18 years of age. Violators will face a $25 fine.

Taken at face value this legislation, which also requires reflective clothing at night, seems to be a common sense move aimed at preventing the often tragic head injuries associated with bicycle accidents.

Not so fast, say cycling advocates, who point out that similar laws in other cities have resulted in unintended consequence and a controlled Canadian study finding helmet laws have a minimal impact on the number and severity of head injuries.

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Thumbnail image for The Share-the-Scraps Economy

The Share-the-Scraps Economy

by Source 02.11.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

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Thumbnail image for Labor Unrest Spreads to Refineries, West Coast Ports, SoCal Edison and Football Stadiums

Labor Unrest Spreads to Refineries, West Coast Ports, SoCal Edison and Football Stadiums

by Doug Porter 02.09.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Local gasoline prices have increased by roughly 20% over the past few weeks. Retailers dependent on imported goods are voicing concerns about bottlenecks in supplies coming through west coast ports. And that could be bad news for consumers. There’s more to the story than what you’ve likely seen or heard.

While the factors surrounding both these development are complex, a major element in each are labor unions seeking safe working conditions. In what amounts to a sad commentary on the state of the news media in the U.S. the coverage has been largely one dimensional, leading with management’s pronouncements about wages and benefits.

Right now the issues being put before the public are rising fuel costs and the possibility the next new gadget may be in short supply. What’s missing is the realization that the health and safety issues are at the core of these economic disruptions. Today I’ll try to round out the picture of what’s really happening here.

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Thumbnail image for Ocean Beach Icon Mike Hardin Passes On

Ocean Beach Icon Mike Hardin Passes On

by Doug Porter 02.06.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

We interrupt this broadcast…. Restaurateur Mike Hardin passed away yesterday.

Here’s Frank Gormlie at the OB Rag:

One of the most successful businessmen and restaurateurs in OB’s history, has passed away. Mike Hardin, owner of the most famous restaurant in the seaside village, Hodad’s Burgers, on Newport Avenue died in Fresno.

His body was found in a Fresno hotel on Thursday, Feb. 5th, after Mike had traveled to Northern California to see his daughter. Cause of death is unknown at this time…

There’s plenty more news today.. GMO’s…Hackers…UCSD and right wingers with their underwear in a bunch over something the president said….

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Thumbnail image for Texas Town Comes Up With the Best Use For an Old Walmart

Texas Town Comes Up With the Best Use For an Old Walmart

by Source 02.06.2015 Business

By Walter Einenkel / Daily Kos

Walmarts are everywhere. They take up tons of space. Superbowl space. They sell everything, they succeed where mom-and-pop businesses fail—and sometimes, they shut down. What happens when a huge edifice, parking lot, highway exit closes in a place? Well, in McAllen, Texas:

They transformed it into the largest single-floor public library in America.

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Thumbnail image for Anti-Vaxxers Immune To Debate, Shaming

Anti-Vaxxers Immune To Debate, Shaming

by Doug Porter 02.05.2015 Activism

California Legislators Move to End Personal Exemption

By Doug Porter

The most recent outbreak of measles appears to be abating, and that’s good news. Sadly, the “debate” over the “rights” of parents who chose to opt out of vaccinations continues. Debate is all well and good, but this is clearly a case where government needs to intervene to protect the public.

Yesterday a bicameral group of legislators announced they were proposing legislation eliminating the personal belief exemption for vaccinations in California. State Senators Dr. Richard Pan and Ben Allen along with Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) say they will move to require immunizations in all school age children with exceptions allowed only for medical reasons.

Dr. Pan told reporters he was open to discussion about keeping the religious exemption.

What we’ve learned over the past few weeks is that characterizing those opposing standard childhood vaccinations as right or left wing is really just a distraction. Data dumps by well-meaning public health officials and public shaming aren’t getting the job done.

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Thumbnail image for Anti-fracking Coalition Calls for Shutdown of Toxic Injection Wells

Anti-fracking Coalition Calls for Shutdown of Toxic Injection Wells

by At Large 02.05.2015 Activism

The permission to pollute was granted because of the capture of the state’s regulatory apparatus by Big Oil and other corporate interests

By Dan Bacher

A coalition of anti-fracking groups and the Center for Biological Diversity today urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to immediately shut down hundreds of injection wells that are illegally dumping toxic oil industry wastewater into scores of California aquifers during the midst of a record drought.

Oil and gas companies over decades used more than 170 waste disposal wells to inject oil and gas wastewater into dozens of aquifers containing potable water, in violation of state and federal law, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The majority of these violations are located in California’s Central Valley, while others are near San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria.

“Oil companies in drought-ravaged California have, for years, pumped wastewater from their operations into aquifers that had been clean enough for people to drink,” said David Baker, reporter. “They did it with explicit permission from state regulators, who were supposed to protect the increasingly strained ground water supplies from contamination.”

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Thumbnail image for Community-Owned Energy: How Nebraska Became the Only State to Bring Everyone Power From a Public Grid

Community-Owned Energy: How Nebraska Became the Only State to Bring Everyone Power From a Public Grid

by Source 02.03.2015 Business

In this red state, publicly owned utilities provide electricity to all 1.8 million people. Here’s how Nebraska took its energy out of corporate hands and made it affordable for everyday residents.

By Thomas M. Hanna / Yes! Magazine

In the United States, there is one state, and only one state, where every single resident and business receives electricity from a community-owned institution rather than a for-profit corporation. It is not a famously liberal state like Vermont or Massachusetts. Rather, it is conservative Nebraska, with its two Republican Senators and two (out of three) Republican members of Congress, that has embraced the complete socialization of energy distribution.

In Nebraska, 121 publicly owned utilities, ten cooperatives, and 30 public power districts provide electricity to a population of around 1.8 million people. Public and cooperative ownership keeps costs low for the state’s consumers. Nebraskans pay one of the lowest rates for electricity in the nation and revenues are reinvested in infrastructure to ensure reliable and cheap service for years to come.

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Thumbnail image for Bad News for San Diego: It’s Business as Usual

Bad News for San Diego: It’s Business as Usual

by Doug Porter 02.03.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

The downside of business as usual in San Diego continues to make the news and not in a good way.

A local business leader tells a boldfaced lie in radio interview. Housing is too expensive for most people. The latest city hall scheme of dreams about a football stadium is already wrapped up in controversy.

Also, yet another GOP Presidential contender wades into the vaccinations controversy, the House will vote yet again today to repeal Obamacare and over-the-counter supplements sold in retailers nationwide are not even close to the real deal….

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Thumbnail image for Apple Corporation Sitting on a Pile of Cash It Has No Use For

Apple Corporation Sitting on a Pile of Cash It Has No Use For

by John Lawrence 02.03.2015 Business

By John Lawrence

Apple Corporation is sitting on $178 billion in cash, and it literally doesn’t know what to do with it. But it knows one thing: it doesn’t want to give any of it to Uncle Sam or any other taxing jurisdictions around the world. That much is clear.

If it divided that money up, Apple could give $550 to every man, woman and child in the US. It’s enough money to buy Ford, General Motors and Tesla combined and still have $41 billion left over.

They could even buy a couple of small countries, but it doesn’t want to do that. Why bother? It’s literally an embarrassment of riches.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Labor Goes Green: New Environmental Caucus Formed

San Diego Labor Goes Green: New Environmental Caucus Formed

by Jim Miller 02.02.2015 Columns

“Let’s be clear, climate change is the most important issue facing all of us for the rest of our lives.” –John Harrity, President of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists

By Jim Miller & Micah Mitrosky

We are facing a historic environmental crisis that threatens our present and future survival. Think Progress pithily summarized the conclusions of last year’s United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, noting that:

The world’s top scientists and governments have issued their bluntest plea yet to the world: Slash carbon pollution now (at a very low cost) or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Scientists have “high confidence” these devastating impacts occur “even with adaptation” — if we keep doing little or nothing.

A short list of the many catastrophic effects that unchecked climate change may bring includes severe drought, dangerous wildfires, increased disease, threatened food systems due to Dust Bowl-like conditions, ocean acidification, more global conflict over resources, economic collapse, and mass extinction.

In short, the overwhelming majority of serious scientists as well as governmental agencies such as NASA and even the U.S. Defense Department are warning of a grim future if we fail to address this issue.

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Thumbnail image for The Greek Earthquake

The Greek Earthquake

by Source 01.31.2015 Business

Syriza will not easily sweep the policies of austerity aside, but there is a palpable feeling on the continent that a tide is turning

By Conn Hallinan / Foreign Policy in Focus

Almost before the votes were counted in the recent Greek elections, battle lines were being drawn all over Europe.

While Alexis Tsipras, the newly elected prime minister from Greece’s victorious Syriza Party, was telling voters that “Greece is leaving behind catastrophic austerity, fear, and autocratic government,” Jens Weidmann, president of the German Bundesbank, was warning the new government not to “make promises it cannot keep and the country cannot afford.”

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Thumbnail image for Super Bowl XLIX: Winners and Losers Off the Field

Super Bowl XLIX: Winners and Losers Off the Field

by Doug Porter 01.30.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

 According to reports from around the country not much is going to happen this weekend approaching the importance of a certain Sunday football game. The New England Patriots will face off against the Seattle Seahawks (3:30pm PT) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. 

An estimated 184 million Americans are expected to watch Super Bowl XLIX, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That’s about 55 million more humans than voted in the 2012 presidential election. Beside the celebratory nature of the day, it’s an event with a huge economic impact. 

So today I’ll indulge in some mostly off-the-field news items; some serious and some silly, starting with a look at the non-helmet wearing people who make it happen.

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Thumbnail image for The Mainstream Meets Occupy

The Mainstream Meets Occupy

by Source 01.30.2015 Business

By Robert Borosage / Campaign for America’s Future

The 1 percent continue to capture virtually all of the income growth in the country, while the average incomes of the 99 percent continue to fall.

And Americans know it. In a January Pew poll, 92 percent report that their incomes are sinking or treading water. This Occupy reality increasingly sets the frame for our political debate, with leaders of both parties adopting populist rhetoric, acknowledging that making this economy work for working people – the sinking “middle class” – is the central question of our day.

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Thumbnail image for Voice of San Diego’s Intern ‘Irony’ is Just the Latest Insult

Voice of San Diego’s Intern ‘Irony’ is Just the Latest Insult

by Doug Porter 01.29.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

Earlier this week Voice of San Diego Editor/CEO Scott Lewis took the Center on Policy Initiatives, a local think tank, to task for a Facebook posting soliciting for unpaid internships to assist in a campaign aimed at increasing minimum wages. 

In the essay and subsequent social media postings, Lewis said he found the idea of volunteer interns working on this particular issue to be ironic. And he seemingly disparaged the notion that the trade-off of job experience and/or college credit as a smokescreen for exploitation.

The old saying about people who live in glass houses comes to mind when viewing the web journal of a high school student who interned with Voice of San Diego. 

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Thumbnail image for City Budget Requests, Unpaid Glitter Unicorns and Congressional Follies

City Budget Requests, Unpaid Glitter Unicorns and Congressional Follies

by Doug Porter 01.28.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s lots to report on today, starting with the annual wish lists for the coming fiscal year’s City of San Diego budget. The consensus item among the city council’s lists is finding more money for paying police.

A local non-profit’s Facebook posting seeking unpaid interns (along with paying positions) to participate in building support for increased minimum wages came under fire yesterday. But things aren’t always as they seem; I think there is another agenda at play here.

And the 114th Congress is off to a great start, unless you want to count passing meaningful legislation as part of it’s goals.

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus

Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus

by Jim Bliesner 01.28.2015 Activism

By Jim Bliesner

The United Food and Commercial Workers (Local 135) are picketing the El Super store in the City Heights Retail Village for a decent wage, health benefits and healthy working conditions. El Super just opened the store in late 2014 with a commitment to hire local City Heights residents.

Pickets allege “there are more people from Tijuana employed than from City Heights”. The Coalition for a Better El Super folks are distributing flyers illustrating 341 health code violations in various El Super stores throughout Southern California—things like “flies in the meat department” and “droppings from what appears to be a cat in the warehouse beverage storage cage”.

They both are asking customers to “Boycott El Super”. Mickey Kasparian, the head of UFCW says it is not unusual to find expired products in almost all El Super stores in So California. They have been picketing for three weeks.

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Thumbnail image for McDonald’s Customers, Employees Not Lovin’ It

McDonald’s Customers, Employees Not Lovin’ It

by Doug Porter 01.23.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Fast food giant McDonald’s is reportedly spending $3 million daily on U.S. advertising, yet business is declining. As the company has pumped up its menu to counter the explosion of fast-casual restaurants, food quality and service times have suffered. And increasingly negative image of the fast food industry as an exploiter of its workforce certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Last year was the company’s worst in three decades. Domestic sales actually declined by 1.7 percent. Global profits declined by 21 percent in the most recent quarter. Franchise owners are unhappy about menu bloat. Customers are confused by assorted pricing schemes. Employees are appearing on TV holding picket signs. And now the company is facing even more bad news.

A July ruling by the National labor Relations Board deeming the company a “joint employer” with its franchisees could spell big trouble, as 10 former workers at three McDonald’s locations in Virginia have filed a lawsuit alleging they were unceremoniously fired last May after being told by supervisors that there were “too many black people” working at their locations.

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